February is a great month for curling up in front of the TV with a warm fleece blanket, a hot cup of cocoa, and a good show, especially if you’re snowed in. Plus, we’ve got a bunch of great series returning later in the month (and in early March), so it’s the perfect time to get caught up, and there are a couple of brand new shows that will be available to stream right away. With that in mind, here are ten shows you should definitely consider binge-watching in February.
What it is: A wily and ambitious congressman utilizes his considerable influence to climb his way up the political ladder, manipulating colleagues along the way and leaving unsuspecting victims in his wake.
Why you should watch it: Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey, who just won a SAG award on Saturday) is not a nice man, but he is, for better or worse, the show’s central figure. He manipulates, wheedles, gladhands, seethes, rants, negotiates, and plots behind closed doors, all to fulfill his personal vendettas. His wife, Claire (in an award-winning performance by Robin Wright) is his formidable ally through it all. Use February to get caught up on the Underwoods’ shenanigans, so you’re ready for the season four premiere on Netflix on March 4th.
Commitment: 36 hours.
What it is: In this contemporary Psycho prequel series, a bizarre mother-son relationship between Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga) and the infamous Norman (Freddie Highmore) leads to violence and mental turbulence after moving to a small town in Oregon and opening a creepy motel.
Why you should watch it: This is one of those rare prequels that actually works. Fans of the Psycho franchise can enjoy along with folks who aren’t familiar; it works as a standalone story line. The top-notch cast effectively takes stabs at subtle — and not-so-subtle — intricacies in delivery, ultimately perfecting characters designed to disturb. With season four premiering on March 7, now is an ideal time to catch up on this exploration of lives so warped, they can’t help but delight.
Commitment: 25 hours.
What it is: HBO’s hit comedy about four twenty-something female friends (Lena Dunham, Jemima Kirke, Allison Williams, and Zosia Mamet) navigating life, and all it throws at them, while living in the Big Apple.
Why you should watch it: For one person to executive produce, write, and star in a show is almost reason enough to give it a chance to win you over. Dunham wears almost all the hats behind the scenes, and drew from her own real-life experiences as she poured her blood, sweat, and tears into Girls. So far, every season of Girls has been Certified Fresh, which is no small feat. Dive in now, and you’ll be ready for the season five premiere on HBO on February 21st.
Commitment: 21 hours.
What it is: Inspired by real life events and based on the nonfiction book of the same name, Show Me a Hero tells the story of the vitriolic dispute over a federally mandated order to build public housing in the middle class neighborhoods of Yonkers, NY.
Why you should watch it: David Simon wrote, produced and created this series with Wire alum and journalist William F. Zorzi. There is no doubt Simon is amply skilled at bringing to light those things we need to see, hear and feel — and his most recent miniseries for HBO reminds us just how lucky we are to have him telling such stories. Under the direction of Paul Haggis, and anchored by an immensely talented cast lead by Oscar Isaac, Show Me a Hero is bingeworthy material of the highest caliber.
Commitment: About 6 hours.
Why you should watch it: An homage to the Leslie Nielsen school of deadpan farce, Angie Tribeca satisfies with its drop-dead serious devotion to ridiculous humor. Whether it’s fake grandparents being assigned to detectives who go deep, deep under cover (with deep voices), or an officer puking upon his every entrance to a crime scene, no matter the level of the crime, fans of the silly-funny will be amused, especially with guest appearances from folks like Lisa Kudrow, Danny Trejo, and Gene Simmons. The series is currently airing on TBS, but the first season is also available to stream in its entirety, for your binge-watching pleasure.
Commitment: 5 hours.
What it is: Ilana and Abbi are twenty somethings navigating life in the big apple. Their voyages lead to an array of awkward, charmingly weird, sometimes cringeworthy and oftentimes out-right hysterical tomfoolery.
Why you should watch it: Created by UCB comedian alums Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer and Executive Produced by Amy Poehler, Broad City has some seriously funny, talented women behind the show. Ilana and Abbi have dynamic chemistry and a unique humanizing brand of comedy. It’s no wonder the show has amassed loyal fans, the praise of critics — and Comedy Central’s recent order for a season four and five.
Commitment: About 4 hours.
What it is: This BBC drama, available in the US as a Netflix Original, follows the rise of the notorious Peaky Blinders gang in post-WWI England.
Why you should watch it: Come for the lush production design and pulsating score — stay for the badass performances. Cillian Murphy delivers as the icy-stared leader of the hardscrabble family gang. Helen McCrory is stellar as the hard as nails matriarch and — TOM HARDY. Although you’ll have to wait for season two for it, Hardy’s turn as baker-cum-vicious gang leader Alfie Solomons is a gift from the television gods.
Commitment: 12 hours.
What it is: A married couple struggling with relationship issues take on two new tenants: the husband’s recently evicted buddy and the wife’s recently dumped sister.
Why you should watch it: This is the first television series created by Jay and Mark Duplass, who have worked both together and independently on a number of critically acclaimed films and TV series, ranging from Baghead and Cyrus to Transparent and The League. If you’re a fan of their typically understated, frequently poignant brand of comedy, Togetherness will feel just right. The show’s simple premise also allows its characters to breathe and behave like real people, which makes it all feel authentic and hit home harder. With its second season premiering on February 21, now’s the perfect time for HBO subscribers to catch up if they missed it the first time around.
Where to watch: HBO GO
Commitment: About 3.5 hours.
Why you should watch it: There isn’t a whole lot of information available about Love at the moment, but we do know that it was co-created by Judd Apatow (alongside star Rust) and stars Gillian Jacobs, who proved her impeccable comic timing on the recent cult favorite NBC comedy Community. We also know that it will be dropping on Netflix, which has an excellent track record with original programming, and they’ve tackled similar material in Aziz Ansari’s Master of None with spectacular results. In other words, when the entire first season of Love becomes available on Netflix on February 19, you should check it out because all indications are pointing to another solid hit.
Where to watch: Season one will become available on Netflix on February 19.
Commitment: 5 hours.
What it is: Suddenly widowed dad Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) enlists brother-in-law Jesse (John Stamos) and childhood friend Joey (Dave Coulier) to move in and help raise his three daughters. D.J.(Candace Cameron) is the oldest at 10, followed by 5-year old Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), and toddler Michelle (played interchangeably by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen).
Why you should watch it: The first season has the most balanced comedy, emphasizing the adult tribulations of three bachelors who grapple with the logistics of raising young girls and coming to terms with a family death. As the Olsens matured, the show played up their tubular cuteness and the humor became more slapstick and broad as the seasons wore on, though there were also frequent arcs on dating and marriage. Netflix’s Fuller House sequel, set to premiere on February 26, parallels the original with D.J., now a suddenly widowed mother of three sons, moving into her childhood home with the help of Stephanie and original series next door neighbor Kimmy Gibbler.
Commitment: 70 hours.
In HBO’s new “Invitation to the Set” video, Girls teases season four with updates on Hannah (Lena Dunham), Marnie (Allison Williams), Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet), Jessa (Jemima Kirke), Elijah (Andrew Rannells), Ray (Alex Karpovsky), and Adam (Adam Driver). See what’s to come in this two-minute sneak peek!
(Yes, that was Ana Gasteyer as Shosh’s mom!)
Season four of Girls is set to return in early 2015. Will you be watching?
Welcome to the Weekly Binge, where we take a closer look at the shows that are worth your time. This week, we meet up with Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham) and her trio of Brooklynite girlfriends as they try to make sense of life and love in New York City. Here’s what you’ll need to know before you hang out with HBO’s Girls.
What’s the premise? Four twenty-something female friends navigate life and all it throws at them while living in the Big Apple.
What’s it like? Not only does series creator Lena Dunham star in and write for the show, but she’s also Executive Producer alongside Judd Apatow, and you know what that means: crazy shenanigans. It’s a dramatic “girl” version of what Apatow does best, namely ridiculous — and at times, heartfelt — comedy. Take the ensemble cast of something like Sex and the City and add the realistic drama of My So-Called Life with a pinch of Awkward‘s smart comedy and voilá!
Where can I see it? Season 3 begins this Sunday January 12, 2014 on HBO. The next day, episodes are available on HBO Go for subscribing customers, as well as HBO.com, iTunes, Vudu and Amazon. Past seasons are available on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, and on DVD from Netflix.
How long will it take? With 2 seasons under its belt at 30 minutes a pop and only 10 episodes per season, this show can be cranked out in no time. A weekend is all you really need to cram this gem in. You could even destroy it in one day if you have 10 hours to kill. If you choose to watch more conservatively, it shouldn’t take more than a week at most.
What do the critics think? Seasons one and two are both certified fresh at 95 percent and 93 percent, respectively, and most of the critics agree that Lena Dunham’s talent is impressive. Matt Roush of TV Guide says, “Girls is the sort of authentic original you dream of discovering, and once you do, you can’t wait for everyone else to discover it,” while James Poniewozik of TIME Magazine claims, “It’s raw, audacious, nuanced and richly, often excruciatingly funny.”
Why should I watch this? The sheer genius that is Lena Dunham — enough said. But seriously, for one person to executive produce, write, and star in a show is almost reason enough to give it a chance to win you over. And don’t expect the series to be all sappy and lovey-dovey just because the main cast is four chicks, either; this show is more true to life than that. It’s a coming-of-age story with a comedic, sometimes dramatic undertone, and you’ll almost certainly catch yourself thinking you know someone just like Hannah, Marnie, Jessa, or Shoshanna. And then there’s Judd Apatow. Plenty of people — guys and girls alike — love his films, so with his contributions helping to fuel the series, you’ll be hard-pressed not to enjoy at least parts of it.
What’s my next step? Dunham wears almost all the hats behind the scenes, and she drew from her own real life experiences as she poured her blood, sweat, and tears into Girls. Apatow has said that he was enticed by Dunham’s imagination and the insight her vision of realistic females could bring to men. Often compared to the similar set up of another HBO show about four women in NYC, Lena says that Girls represents the part of our population that Sex and the City left out. For more of Dunham’s unique perspective, you can start with her second film Tiny Furniture, which was what caught Judd Apatow’s attention in the first place, and for a similar take on a single girl’s life in NYC, Noah Baumbach’s latest effort, Frances Ha, will do nicely (the latter also features Girls‘ Adam Driver). If it’s a female-centric coming-of-age story you’re looking for, Now and Then and Clueless are worth a look. As for TV shows with this same sort-of set up, there’s always Sex and the City as mentioned above, but if you’re looking for something a little more raw, try Orange is the New Black or the new show Looking, which debuts on HBO January 19, 2014 at 10:30pm, right after new episodes of Girls.
Yes, we’re now living in a world in which you people cannot wait to see the commercials that advertise movie trailers. Sounds kind of silly, but then again we are talking about Peter Jackson‘s "King Kong" remake, so let’s just revel in the good, geeky fun of it all. Stop off at the truly excellent Kong is King website to catch a promo for next week’s "King Kong" trailer premiere.
Don’t go in expecting much more of a tantalizing little taste of giant-ape goodness, and be sure you’re in front of a TV next Monday night. "King Kong," starring Naomi Watts ("The Ring"), Jack Black ("High Fidelity"), and Adrien Brody ("The Jacket"), climbs your local multiplex on December 14th.